Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Doctor Who finally pays tribute to his new home of Cardiff. Unfortunately, Cardiff, as depicted in Boom Town, is a bland, soulless expanse of concrete, metal and glass. Surely they could have found some more interesting locations than these...?

Boom Town is designed to be an exploration of The Doctor's morality and the effects he has on those he leaves behind. This leaves it very light on the action, and very heavy on the dialogue. The scenes between the Slitheen and The Doctor promise much, but very rarely deliver; much time is wasted with slapstick scenes of The Doctor foiling Margaret's last-minute (and utterly unrealistic) attempts to kill him and Margaret's truly repulsive description of the Raxacoricofallapatorian execution rituals. And (as with the Doctor and Jackie's discussion in World War Three) as soon as their conversation appears to be going somewhere interesting, external events deprive us of a conclusion.

To add to the tedium, we have an extensive subplot exploring Rose and Mickey's lack-of-relationship. It's all very well to show the effects of The Doctor's adventures on those who get caught up in them, but devoting a large part of an otherwise uneventful episode to them just comes across as naval-gazing. It's doubly frustrating when this thread is also left unresolved, with Mickey sloping off quietly back to London at the end. Doctor Who is supposed to be about scary monsters - this is a worse case of "Neighbours with roundels on the walls" than anything JNT ever produced. Or, to quote the previous episode's writer: "Us kids want Narnia, not the wardrobe".

To liven things up, we have a rather unconvincing threat to the Earth tacked on to the end of the episode. Unfortunately, it all brings back unhappy memories of the TVM, with the planet about to get sucked into a space/time rift for the flimsiest of reasons. The comparisons continue with a ludicrous denouement that sees the villain permanently changed by facing a bright light from inside the TARDIS.

It's all very, very uninvolving. Where it's not dull, it's painful to watch. The most fascinating things about this episode are the descriptions of the crew's various offscreen adventures (and I believe we have to buy the books to see those, which somewhat undermines RTD's words about adhering to the BBC charter) and the Next Time trailer.

A total waste of an episode, and particularly disappointing after the wonderful Empty Child two-parter. 1/10.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television